The $4.8 million jury verdict obtained by Nick Carter and Matt Furman in Providence Superior Court on behalf of two estates seeking the return of inheritance money in an investment account was featured in a page one article in Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly.
Following the five-day trial, the jury deliberated for about 2.5 hours before returning its verdict in favor of the firm's clients on all counts: conversion; tortious interference with inheritance; exploitation of an elder; obtaining money by false pretenses; breach of fiduciary duty; deceptive trade practices; and civil conspiracy.
The jury rendered its verdict on all counts against two of the defendants, a financial advisor and a nephew of the deceased owner of the disputed financial account, and also on a number of counts against the financial institution that employed the financial advisor.
The jury found that the financial advisor and the nephew had conspired to secretly divert the account funds to the nephew, and that the deceased owner of the account had not intended to change the beneficiary on the account to his nephew. The financial advisor had obtained signatures from the 92-year-old account owner on the beneficiary form, including on one occasion while the elderly account owner was on his deathbed in the intensive care unit of Rhode Island Hospital in the days after an emergency surgery and while suffering from infections and on opioids. The signatures also violated the financial institution's policies and included fraudulent notarizations.
The jury awarded $2.4 million in damages to the estates for the underlying claims and an additional $2.4 million in punitive damages.
"We knew the jury would be very upset by the facts of all this, and I was not surprised by the punitive damages award in light of the wrongdoing here," Mr. Carter told Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly.
Regarding the broader impact of the verdict, Mr. Carter said, "This is a case involving the exploitation of an elder. The defendants went into the ICU and had a 92-year-old man sign very complicated financial documents. You just don't do that. The jury is sending a message that taking advantage of a client, particularly an elderly client, is not acceptable."